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More common errors with corrections from Larry Edwards. Among them, my favorites–the Oxford comma and comma splice.

Polishing Your Prose

From the Editor’s Eye
The 10 Most Common Errors Made by Writers
(And How to Fix Them)

The second of a ten-part series.

#9. Commagain? Oxford Comma, Comma Splice & Dialogue Punchuating Bag

The comma, the plow horse of punctuation, has several uses. This piece addresses three of the them: in a series (the serial or Oxford comma), as a comma splice, and when punctuating dialogue.


As copy editor for the San Diego Reader, I witnessed a shouting match between a fellow copy editor and the managing editor. An outside observer might have concluded that the publication’s very reputation rested on the outcome of that ultimately deleterious debate—over a comma.

The lowly copy editor argued that the sentence did not require a comma at a specific juncture; the managing editor insisted that it did. When the managing editor stomped out of the room, I thought that settled…

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